State unemployment rate dropped to near-record low in March

Washington’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell from 4.9 to 4.7 percent in March — the lowest rate since August 2007, according to the state Employment Security Department.

“Washington has one of the better growing economies in the nation,” department economist Paul Turek said. “Strong job growth has pushed the unemployment rate down further as more workers find jobs.”

Washington employers added 10,700 non-farm jobs in March. The department released the seasonally adjusted, preliminary job estimates from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics as part of its March Monthly Employment Report.

In March last year, the statewide unemployment rate was 5.6 percent. The national unemployment rate was 4.5 percent this March.

Clallam County’s unemployment rate in March was 7.5 percent, 12th-highest among the state’s 39 counties.

Employment Security paid unemployment insurance benefits to 65,733 people in March.

The state’s labor force rose to 3.68 million — an increase of 1,500 people from the previous month. From March 2016 through March 2017, the state’s labor force grew by 73,200. (The labor force is the total number of people, both employed and unemployed, over the age of 16.)

Private sector employment increased by 11,400 and government employment decreased by 700 jobs in March.

This month’s report shows the greatest job growth occurred in leisure and hospitality up 2,700, education and health services up 2,500 and professional and businesses services up 2,300 new jobs. In addition, retail trade and transportation, warehousing and utilities added 1,400 jobs each; construction increased 900; financial services added 700; other services and information gained 500 each; and mining and logging rose 100.

Wholesale trade faced the biggest reduction in March, losing 1,400 jobs. Government cut 700 and manufacturing shed 200.

Washington has added an estimated 92,000 new jobs from March 2016 through March 2017, not seasonally adjusted. The private sector grew by 3.1 percent or 80,200 jobs, and the public sector increased by 2.1 percent, adding 11,800 jobs.

From March 2016 through March 2017, 12 of the state’s 13 industry sectors added jobs. Manufacturing (-5,800) was the only sector to report job losses.

The three industry sectors with the largest employment gains year-over-year, not seasonally adjusted, were:

• Education and health services with 16,900 new jobs;

• Retail trade with 15,900 new jobs; and

• Leisure and hospitality with 13,000 new jobs.

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